Polycentricity is a governance concept originally developed and refined in the early 1960th by Vincent Ostrom wiki , Charles Tiebout and Robert Warren. It envisions multiple, formally independent decision-making centers as the best way to increase flexibility and responsiveness of a governance system, as competition among the different centers is assumed.

A polycentric governance system -in contrast to an hierarchical one- can be defined as one where people...

“are able to organize not just one but multiple governing authorities at differing scales” (Ostrom, 2005, p. 283).

removes government from the focal point of ultimate knowledge and authority.[13]

In the context of the commons, the polycentricity-concept has been applied at the Workshop in Political Theory & Policy Analysis, aka Ostrom-Workshop html

# Characteristics of Polycentricity as a concept (SH) - multiple, partially overlapping centers - multilevel by definition - combines decentralization and federation - "embraces" conflicting goals, ambivalences and redundance

# Characteristics of a policentric governance framework

Explaining Polycentricity. source

takes into account that: - there is a need to base governance on the idea of subsidiarity and form multiple alliances - there are no clearly defined jurisdictional borders in the commons - governance and self-governance bodies are overlapping. They share actors, partially resource-systems and concerns. Therefore, they need to be connected to each other. - distinct governance bodies have distinct but overlapping roles to play in the governance of the whole. This means that distinct sets of rules are needed in specific circumstances at different levels. But still, they can and should derive from similar patterns and be based on a similar ethics of governance. In short: different governance units might be specific in shape but similar in essence.

# Sources R. E. Wagner (2005): "Self-governance, polycentrism, and federalism: recurring themes in Vincent Ostrom's scholarly oeuvre." Journal of Economic Behavior and Organization, Vol. 57 (2), pp. 173–88 Vincent Ostrom et al. (1961): The organization of government in metropolitan areas: a theoretical inquiry. American Political Science Review, Vol. 55, pp. 831–42. V. Ostrom (1973): The Intellectual Crisis in American Public Administration. University of Alabama Press: Tuscaloosa, Alabama. Explaining the Concept of Polycentricity, Blogpost by Sobhi Mohanty html

# See also Decentralized vs Distributed, Poly-Parlamentarism Redefining Polycentricity blog Polycentric Law wiki